UPDATE: I've added more of Peter Nowak's remarks to the bottom of this post. After going back ovr the quotes, Nowak did say "you," not "we," in response to my question about Michael Orozco Fiscal's loan. I've copied the entire quote below, and added much more from the conference call. My original point from this afternoon still stands, though, as you'll see.
The Union chose to not extend Michael Orozco Fiscal's loan deal past its initial one-year term, manager Peter Nowak told reporters on a conference call today.
"Michael Orozco Fiscal was on a one-year loan with an option to buy," Nowak said. "We didn't exercise our option."
Nowak added that the loan expired January 1. and that Orozco Fiscal has been San Luis' property since then.
Orozco was at the Union's training camp in Wayne last month, and he played in the preseason exhibition game against Orlando City. He might not have officially been on the payroll at that point, but he was still with the club in some capacity. From everything I've read and heard, there's nothing wrong with that arrangement.
When I asked Nowak why the Union didn't make any statement about Orozco Fiscal's departure, he replied by stating that the media should have already known about it.
Here is the entirety of Nowak's answer to my question:
The overall confusion about that is because everybody forgot what the status of Michael Orozco Fiscal was last year. Michael Orozco Fiscal was on a one-year loan with an option to buy. We didn't exercise our option on his contract, so basically since January 1st, he is the property of his former club. He is not the property of Philadelphia Union.
But the Union do not sign the players. The players are signed by Major League Soccer and are allocated to the teams. In this case, Michael Orozco Fiscal is the property of his former club, which is San Luis in Mexico. So that's the whole expanation.
I don't know why the whole issue became so important right now, because it seems to me that you forgot what the rules are, and were not really paying attention to what the contract details were before making suggestions or pure speculation about how this happened.
It might be that the roster was not updated in due time because in camp we were trying to find other pieces as well, so it might have been confusing, but in this case there's nothing left to say.
After my question, Kerith Gabriel followed up with another question asking why there had been so little information out there in public. Here was Nowak's answer:
I think, as I said to all of you before, we've got to stop paying attention to the details of the contracts. I know that sometimes, if you're going to get somebody from a different club, you just say, okay, we've got him, and he's our property, and then we're going to do it as it is [financially]. In this case, it was the same question.
You can compare this to Michael Bradley's situation [on loan at Aston Villa]. He is the property of Borussia Mönchengladbach [in Germany]. At the end of the season, he's going to be back with Mönchengladbach regardless of what happens to him. If the people [at Villa] decide to follow up with his rights [and buy his contract], that's another topic.
But in this case, we have certain rules and obligations from Major League Soccer. It's not like we're freelance and operate like other clubs from around the world. So that's the point with Michael Orozco Fiscal.
There's nothing much to say about our work, and as I said, you need to look a little bit deeper and not try to find out what happened. and how it happened, and why it happened, and why we need to announce it. It should be a clear process. At the end of the year, the deal was up, and he had to go back to his 'mother club, which was San Luis in Mexico. Why did we need to announce that, why did people have to get aggravated about why the team was hiding some stuff?
From the beginning, it was well-known. End of story. He is back in Mexico, and this stuff is already done. For our club, it's a very simple situation, and we need to move forward with that.
I plead guilty to the charge of not having looked for previous stories on the details of Orozco Fiscal's contract. It was reported when the signing was announced that it was a one-year loan with an option to purchase the contract afterward.
But I would disagree with Nowak's assertion that the details of the deal were "well-known." Whether the club likes it or not, there was a lot of confusion about the situation over the last few days, in part because Orozco was still training with the club after the loan expired.
And it wasn't just people in the media complaining. Judging from the messages I've been getting on Twitter over the last few days, it seems that many of you were confused as well.
Furthermore, as we all know too well, MLS is adamant about never officially releasing contract details to the public. So to hear someone working for MLS tell us that we ought to know such information is humorous, to put it politely.
I found the Union's original press release from back when Orozco Fiscal was signed. Sure enough, it said:
Philadelphia Union continue to bolster their roster with some of the nation’s top talent, announcing the acquisition of U-23 U.S. National Team defender Michael Orozco. Orozco is on loan from Mexican First Division team San Luis FC, where he spent the last three years playing. Per club and Major League Soccer policy, terms of the player’s contract and loan are confidential.
Here are some quotes from Nowak on other subjects that were discussed during the conference call...
On whether the Union will make more moves to fill the club's eight open roster slots, in particular on the back line:
The roster is not set. The roster is projected right now to be in compliance with the rules and regulations of Major League Soccer. The roster will be all set on the guarantee date, which I don't know off the top of my head right now. It's not set at all. We can sign players who are free agents, who don't have clubs, or who get released for whatever reason.
[Note from me: the date Nowak is referring to is April 15, when MLS' winter transfer window closes.]
We try to manage this from a perspective that is going to help us not just in Major League Soccer, but also, as you know, the Reserve League will be played as well this season. We have obligations to our ownership group and our fans. We're going to have a roster that competes on all these levels with the success that we all want to accomplish.
If we feel that we need pieces that are going to help us, of course we will make the necessary adjustments. We have enough resources under the cap, we have enough resources in allocation money that we can make this happen. It's just a question of if we are going to have the right pieces, and what is needed at moments like that. And of course, the roster is not set yet.
On the status of Levi Houapeu:
We are in the process right now of looking closely [at him]. It's not an issue of the money part, or this or that, it's just some legal stuff, how we are going to move forward with that. We've worked with Levi at the last couple of camps, and the work has been very good. His mentality has been very good. So it might be that at the end of the day, before our first game, we make this happen.
But I cannot tell you right now how that's going to be. We have another few days in Greece, then another week in Philadelphia, and we as a staff need to look closely at what's going to happen next. Everything that has needed to be done has been done, now it's just about what is going to be the next step. With regards to offering him a contract or not, I can't tell you.
On what Carlos Ruiz brings to the team, and how he compares to Alejandro Moreno:
People forget too fast that Carlos Ruiz was, I believe twice, a Golden Boot winner. People forget that four or five years ago, he was a league MVP. In the last year, I've seen his European league games, I've had contacts seeing how he looks physically.
I think that people draw the line with him just to concentrate on stuff that makes people judge and profile Carlos right now, based on his stay in Major League Soccer. Everybody makes mistakes, everbody tries to improve their lives, everybody tries to take a second chance. It's coming in the right direction.
I think that right now, Carlos is in a great mental state. He's been working very well with the team. He brings some things that the team needs in terms of ambition, in terms of training, work ethic. You can see the player has matured. I know him from having played against Carlos in the league.
Drawing conclusions [about Ruiz's history of diving] before they see him is unfair to Carlos, and I think it's unfair to Alejandro Moreno as well. I think Ale did a great job with the team, because he gave everything he had on the field. He left the team with a great feeling about how he plays and works. I think nobody can say a bad word about Alejandro Moreno last season because that's how this guy played the game.
I think drawing a conclusion before the first kick, with people's suggestions that he might be this, he might be that, paying attention to small stuff like that, not judging him on what he's going to do on the field, that's unfair to "Fish," and also unfair to Alejandro Moreno as well.
On what conclusions can be drawn from the Union's preseason games so far:
I think, as I said, you guys are drawing conclusions by looking not at the big picture but at single things like that - with Carlos, with Moreno, with the red cards, stuff like that. We're trying very hard to get our [training] situation wide open for you guys. That's why we opened the first couple of days at YSC when everybody could be with the team.
The reports that I had, that the team had, there was only pure speculation. People with cameras in front of the players, trying to figure out who was this and who was that. I heard that Chris Agorsor was actually compared to Freddy Adu.
The best situation would be, I wish that next year, some of you guys would travel with us. My doors are always open, the training facility will be open, and you can see the games we play. I think at the end of the Orlando trip, the guys were really tired mentally. I appreciate the work that they've done the last few weeks.
The game we played against Ergotelis was a pretty good game: very competitive, a lot of tackles, a lot of good moments and good flow of the game, especially in the first half. In the second half, we pushed the game even harder, because the youngsters played in the second half, and they had a couple of good chances to score another goal and win the game.
The referee, it being a friendly game, Stefani made a perfect tackle that was not at all a penalty kick, and not worth a sending off. I was in the stadium and physically didn't see a red card. So maybe some of these guys who reported that Stefani was red-carded, maybe missed it. I was there, and I didn't see the red card.
Before we're going to get to any kind of conclusion about where the season is going, and whether this is the Philadelphia Union's style to get a red card, we ought to slow down and relax. Let us work, let us go with a good mentality and not concentrate on little things. Let us play the game, and be ready for [the season opener on] March 19th.
The reports of Miglioranzi's red card against Ergotelis came from from the Union's Twitter account, which was providing live updates during the game. The tweet stating that a red card was issued has been deleted; the account now says that there was no red card shown.
I was able to find a match report on Ergotelis' web site, and there no mention of the red card there either. The game stories in the Inquirer and Daily News also don't mention a red card being shown.
(No, I don't speak Greek. I ran the page through Google Translate.)
As for Nowak's opinion that the beat writers ought to travel with the team more often, I'd love to do that if my company had the money for it. Heck, we'd all like to go to Greece, Portland, Vancouver, Toronto, and all those other big cities the Union will visit this year.
But as you might have heard, journalism isn't exactly the most profitable industry these days. So I'll do what I can, but Nowak is probably going to have to get along without me a fair amount this season.
I have a hunch that he'll be just fine.